Meteor Crater, near Flagstaff, is the best preserved crater in the world.
The Mars Rover was tested at the crater. So was rock analysis equipment that automatically scans and transmits important scientific information back to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) headquarters in Houston.
Nearly every year for the past 38, NASA scientists are at Meteor Crater from Sept. 4 through Sept. 15 to conduct unique testing on rovers, spacesuits, communication systems and other equipment used for future space missions.
But why Meteor Crater, you may be asking?
Meteor Crater was created nearly 50,000 years ago when a massive meteorite struck the Earth at 40,000 miles per hour.
The impact thrust millions of tons of rock and debris skyward and left a permanent mark on northern Arizona's landscape.
The surface of the resulting crater so closely resembles the moon that NASA's Apollo astronauts trained at the crater in 1968 before taking those first steps on Earth's only natural satellite planet in 1969 -- the moon.
NASA's future involves returning to the moon and human exploration of Mars, and the fieldwork done at Meteor Crater will be the basic method of operation on these planetary surfaces.
NASA visits to Meteor Crater are always welcome and have become a special event for anyone interested in astrogeology, the study of meteors, and space enthusiasts.
Scientists will be available to the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15 at Meteor Crater's Astronaut Park.
The NASA scientists will demonstrate some of the various space equipment as well as answer questions from the public about current projects and plans for advancements into space.
Meteor Crater is located 30 minutes east of Flagstaff or 20 minutes west of Winslow on Interstate 40, and is open year-round. Admission fees include a guided, walking tour (weather permitting and closed-toe shoes recommended) and entrance into the Visitor Center's state-of-the-art Learning Center with 24 hands-on educational activities and exciting exhibits. Prices are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, $6 for juniors (6-17 years), and children 5 and under are admitted free. Special reduced group rates are available for school groups. Make your school's field trip reservation by calling Robyn at 800-289-5898 and learn more at www.meteorcrater.com.